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Winnipeg brothers bonded while filming goofy crime caper

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The Silcox brothers,  from left, Steve, Nathan and Jeremy.


The Silcox brothers, from left, Steve, Nathan and Jeremy.

Southern California had Starsky & Hutch. And Charlie's Angels.

In 1970s Winnipeg, meanwhile, there's an elite trio of colourful, crime-fighting detectives fighting to expose their hometown's seedy underbelly and take back the mean streets.

Dust off your leisure suit, put on your shades and pass the cheese: The Primary Brothers are back in action. And this time, they're the target of an elusive criminal mastermind.

Will their courage, charisma, and kung fu moves be enough to save them -- and the city -- from destruction?

All is revealed in Primary Brothers 2: Primary Targets, an independent short film by real-life Winnipeg brothers Jeremy, Steve and Nathan Silcox that made its big-screen debut at the Park Theatre last week.

It's the 25-minute sequel to The Primary Brothers: Pursuing Justice, a five-minute, spoofy crime flick that introduced the world to the sideburned, polyester-clad, sleuthing siblings -- named Red, Blue and Yellow after their natty attire -- back in 2005.

PB1, which the Silcox brothers "knocked out" on a whim over the course of three winter months, earned them a fourth-place finish in the National Screen Institute's National Exposure amateur film contest that year. (It can be viewed online at

They shot the sequel, mostly in downtown Winnipeg, over eight days in 2007. As Jeremy, 34, recalls, he was weeks away from moving to South Africa on a two-year work stint when Steve, 32, a motion graphic designer, informed him the film had to wrap before he left.

"And it's been in post-production ever since," says the mechanical engineer, who now lives in Lima, Peru. He flew home for the screening.

Steve, sitting in his living room with his look-alike brothers, offers an explanation: "Life got in the way. When we were shooting this, I was living in an apartment and had a girlfriend. Now I'm married and have a house." So is Jeremy, whose wife, Megan, plays the role of disappeared scientist Dr. Scott in the sequel.

While Nathan, 27, who runs a printing press, is an avid film buff with some 400 titles in his collection, and Steve has a multimedia background, the Silcox sibs have tongues firmly planted in cheeks when they talk of their thespian careers.

"We have, collectively, zero acting experience," says Jeremy, laughing, "but now we have two films. We wanted them to have that classic Batman, over-the-top, slapstick feel with cheesy humour and where no one really gets hurt."

Their foray into filmmaking may be just for fun, but the brothers did hire a few local aspiring actors -- their parents were part of the crew -- for the sequel. And they do plan to enter it into as many amateur film contests as possible in the coming months.

Steve has been making little indie films since childhood, but the idea for the Primary Brothers came about, he says, when he and Jeremy were travelling together in Europe in 2004 and one day noticed they were wearing raincoats in their favourite childhood colours -- blue and red, respectively. They noted that if Nathan were with them, he'd have on a yellow jacket.

"When we were kids, to prevent fights, our parents would buy us different coloured versions of the same thing," Jeremy (a.k.a. Det. Red) explains. Sitting together in Amsterdam, they came up with the name Primary Brothers and sketched out a storyline. All they knew was that their "handsome heroes" would don primary-coloured leisure suits and dish out street justice against evil-doers wreaking havoc on their beloved city.

In Primary Targets, detectives Red, Blue and Yellow also match wits -- and moves -- with a "shadowy super team of seductive assassins" called the Secondary Sisters, and battle a pack of combative robots as they attempt to rescue the missing scientist.

The Silcoxes admit they've had their share of sibling rivalry over the years. But their collaborative cinematic venture, especially the "Brother Beer" brainstorming sessions where they would get together to shape the script, has been a bonding experience, says Jeremy.

"Honestly, I think these movies have made us closer. It sounds cheesy, but it's true."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 25, 2013 D1


Updated on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 7:07 AM CDT: replaces photo

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